6 steps to introduce a new system to your firm

Any accounting firm looking to grow needs to be prepared to innovate and change.

Often, this change means introducing new technology. Ultimately this new system will make a process more efficient, boost the quality of your firm’s output, or make managing your team easier (or in the best cases, all the above).  

But the time between introduction and the point where the team is comfortable at using the system is often longer than expected (face it, you want it selected, implemented and working at the same time!)

This period is often fraught with challenges like:

  • The fact that your team members learn in different ways and at different paces

  • Tracking everyone's progress

  • Knowing who is comfortable or who is struggling and in need of extra attention

With careful planning, this transition can be smoother and quicker. You can give staff the instructions they need, allow them to learn at their own pace and on their own, and can keep track of all this easily. What’s more, using Karbon you can also give the team a place to collaborate and help each other. 

Here is a basic guide on how to introduce a new system and manage the change within your firm, including how you can leverage Karbon in the process.

#1 Appoint a change champion

Choose someone from the team, other than yourself or another manager, to help steer the introduction of the new system. This person will be your change champion.

They can be a volunteer, someone who you think is generally quick at picking up new technology, someone who could benefit from the extra responsibility, or even the person who identified the new system in the first place.

Depending on your firm’s size you may want to pick one change champion per department or team. 

The role of the change champion is to make sure everyone is progressing well, be the go-to person for queries and issues from the team, and be the link to external support (if applicable).

#2 Assign onboarding tasks to each team member

Devise some tasks everyone should complete to master this new system, starting with the simplest, and progressively getting more advanced. The idea is that once all these items are completed by someone, that person should be an advanced user of new system.

You can paste these tasks into a Karbon work item so that you create a clear list of onboarding tasks. It’s a good idea to include as much direction as possible for your team here, including due dates for each item and clear instructions in their descriptions.

You can then copy the section and bulk assign it to each team member until everyone has their own onboarding checklist. This is what will guide everyone to learn at their own pace, in a logical order.

You can find pre-existing Karbon templates at the Karbon Template Library to help you get started.

#3 Hold a group onboarding session

Hold an onboarding session for your team so you can present the system and explain how they will learn to use it.

This is when you can address any high-level issues or questions, including:

  • What does the new system do?

  • Why are you introducing it?

  • What are the expected outcomes?

Make sure you step through each onboarding task clearly. Never assume that something is so obvious that everyone should just know how to do it—start from the very beginning.

Your change champion can run this part of the session if they are confident enough with the system and have been involved from the beginning.

Make it clear to everyone that they will need to complete the tasks in their own onboarding checklist.

By the end of this session everyone should be ready to get going.

#4 Empower everyone to share their progress

When learning anything new, it's important that the team has somewhere to discuss their progress, share issues they face and ask questions. Consider created a dedicated Slack channel, where you can collaborate.

Or, if you'd prefer to keep things in Karbon, you can ask your team to post notes on the Work timeline if they have any questions, feedback or comments.

Ideally, everyone should also post an update twice a week, answering the following:

  • What did they learn?

  • What did they struggle with?

  • What is one helpful tip to share with the team?

This way, everyone will be able to see and learn from each other's updates.

You can also use this as an opportunity to communicate to the broader team about any relevant webinars to attend (such as training session).

#5 Give extra attention to those who need it

It's inevitable that your staff will progress and learn at different speeds, so it's important to provide extra assistance to those who need it.

As a manager, you can quickly see how the team is progressing by looking at their individual checklists. If anyone is struggling, why not ask a staff member who is further forward to help them out with a one-on-one training session? Take it one step further and use this as the first step in a staff mentoring program.

You can also keep an eye on the timeline to see if the same questions or issues are consistently raised. If they are, look to organize a group training session covering these so that everyone benefits from the assistance.

#6 Note what worked and what can be improved next time

Improvement requires constant evaluation and refinement. After the process is completed, make sure you ask yourself and your team what could have been done better. 

Write this as a note in the piece of work in Karbon, even after you mark it as complete. At any time down the track, you will be able to look back on this to guide you when introducing your next system.

Plan out your journey

The ultimate outcome a new system brings to your accounting firm is a positive one, but the road to get there is often rocky. You must map out a route for the team.

For those using Karbon, it's quick and easy to set up an onboarding process for any new system. Everyone has the information they need, whenever they need it, and communication and collaboration between them all is simple. As a manager, you can sit back and observe.

And if you're not yet using Karbon, you can leverage free templates from the Karbon Template Library and use with other tools or as .XLS spreadsheets.